Norwegian government’s Energy+ program launched at Bellona’s venue in Durban

Publish date: December 8, 2011

Written by: Ruth Lothe

Translated by: Charles Digges

DURBAN, South Africa – Bellona, in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had the pleasure of being hosts to the launch of the ambitious Energy + initiative presented today at the climate summit in Durban.

“This is an exciting initiative from the Norwegian government and an initiative we would warmly welcome,” said Bellona’s senior adviser on international energy and climate issues, Svend Søyland.

Clean energy for all

The Energy + initiative is intended to contribute to the solution of two critical challenges that are closely related. Firstly, 1.4 billion people who live without electricity and 2.7 billion people who currently depend on biomass for cooking will have accesss to a reliable and non-polluting energy soucrce at an affordable price under the initiative.

Secondly, greenhouse gas emissions in the world will reach their peak in 2015, and should be reduced by 50-85 percent (compared to the 2000 levels) by 2050.

As a result, most countries in the world will have to drastically change their energy policy. Current funding levels coupled with existing climate programs and initiatives are inadequate to address these challenges.

The major barriers to achieve clean energy for all are a lack of political will, a dearth good projects and scarce funding.

“If the Energy + is able to add a new dimension to the existing manifold efforts toward access to energy for all, and avoid just copying other initiatives, it is precisely the kind of political measure we need to combat climate change,” said an enthusiastic Søyland, who in recent weeks has worked intensively to develop an exciting program in Bellona’s conference room at COP17 in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
[picture1 {Norwegian Environment and Development Minister Erik Solheim, who attended the }]

Cooperation on pilot projects

The Norwegian authorities’ international initiatives are intended to expedite efforts for universal access to energy, energy efficiency and the development of a low-carbon society. An important goal is to reach large groups of people in the world who have no access to modern energy services.

The initiative will be developed along three lines at once:

1. Development of international cooperation that is open to all;

2. Testing the concept of the initiative in select coutries via pilot projects;

3. Further development of the concept and methodology behind the Energy + initiative.

‘Pay for performance’

“What is important is that the project will have a result-based approach,” said Søyland.

“This means that countries first get support when the energy has been delivered to users, ”he said, adding that the government’s initiative primarily seeks out countries and regions where energy can be delivered to as many people as possible without at the same time increasing greenhouse gas emissions.

Countries and regions will on a volunatary basis submit plans to demonstrate how they will increase energy supplies, and will emphasize how government and business will reach partnerships.

The Energy + initiative will encourage the development of frameworks that will make investment from the business sector interesting and predictable.

“The recently submitted report by the UNEP, ’Energy Smart’ Food for People and Climate,’ and other reports, show that non-network-based energy solutions can meet more people’s energy at a lower price than the network-based solutions,” said Søyland.

“This means the Energy + initiative will make it easier to develop energy systems for people who live far from existing energy networks. It is also important to remember that population growth will occure over the next few decades in the major cities,” he said.

The REDD+ model

The Energy + initiative will have a three-stage approach inspired by the work methodology of the United Nations’s and the Norwegian government’s existing forest initiative, REDD+.

1.) The first is to support the development of low carbon development and policies in the energy sector that can attract private investment.

2.) The next is to implement the necessary political conditions for incentive mechanisms so that the first change can occur.

 3.) Finally, Energy + will pay at the sector level to facilitate  energy  access and emission reductions, as opposed to “business as usual.”

Along the way, Energy+ will collaborate with already existing programs working toward the same goal.

Energy+ and the Durban summit

The initiative is intended to assist in the climate negotiations in two ways:

1.) It will speed up the planning and implementation of national measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (so-called NAMAs) as is already proposed in the UNFCCC, and which measures are already on their way in several developing countries.

2.) It will develop a method and provide practical experience for a sectoral approach, which can be used as constructive input in the negotiations.

Energy + will demonstrate the possibilites of  a sectoral performance-based funding program – that is a system based on “pay for performance.” The concept will be tested in cooperation with the pilot countries to create an attractive fiscal climate and probe what kind of financing can be mobilized through the carbon market in the years to come.

Moving forward

Norway will be bringing the initiative to potential partners and pilot countries, multilateral organizations, other donors, the private sector and NGOs in order to develop the Energy + initiative as a work of international collaboration.

Developing nations that meet the criteria will be invited to test the concept as a pilot country.